A new year is just another excuse to build up our TBR piles! Here are some of the books releasing this month that we are really looking forward to.
1. Consider This: Moments in My Writing Life after Which Everything Was Different by Chuck Palahniuk
Renowned, bestselling novelist Chuck Palahniuk takes us behind the scenes of the writing life, with postcards from decades on the road and incredible examination of the power of fiction and the art of storytelling.
In this spellbinding blend of memoir and insight, bestselling author Chuck Palahniuk shares stories and generous advice on what makes writing powerful and what makes for powerful writing.With advice grounded in years of careful study and a keenly observed life, Palahniuk combines practical advice and concrete examples from beloved classics, his own books, and a”kitchen-table MFA” culled from an evolving circle of beloved authors and artists, with anecdotes, postcards from the road, and much more.Clear-eyed, sensitive, illuminating, and knowledgeable, Consider This is Palahniuk’s love letter to stories and storytellers, booksellers and books themselves. Consider it a classic in the making.
2. Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis by Ada Calhoun
When Ada Calhoun found herself in the throes of a midlife crisis, she thought that she had no right to complain. She was married with children and a good career. So why did she feel miserable? And why did it seem that other Generation X women were miserable, too?Calhoun decided to find some answers. She looked into housing costs, HR trends, credit card debt averages, and divorce data. At every turn, she saw a pattern: sandwiched between the Boomers and the Millennials, Gen X women were facing new problems as they entered middle age, problems that were being largely overlooked.Speaking with women across America about their experiences as the generation raised to “have it all,” Calhoun found that most were exhausted, terrified about money, under-employed, and overwhelmed. Instead of being heard, they were told instead to lean in, take “me-time,” or make a chore chart to get their lives and homes in order.
In Why We Can’t Sleep, Calhoun opens up the cultural and political contexts of Gen X’s predicament and offers solutions for how to pull oneself out of the abyss—and keep the next generation of women from falling in. The result is reassuring, empowering, and essential reading for all middle-aged women, and anyone who hopes to understand them.
3. Successful Aging: A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives by Daniel J. Levitin
Author of the iconic bestsellers This Is Your Brain on Music and The Organized Mind, Daniel Levitin turns his keen insights to what happens in our brains as we age, why we should think about health span, not life span, and, based on a rigorous analysis of neuroscientific evidence, what you can do to make the most of your seventies, eighties, and nineties today no matter how old you are now.
Successful Aging uses research from developmental neuroscience and the psychology of individual differences to show that sixty-plus years is a unique developmental stage that, like infancy or adolescence, has its own demands and distinct advantages. Levitin looks at the science behind what we all can learn from those who age joyously, as well as how to adapt our culture to take full advantage of older people’s wisdom and experience. Throughout his exploration of what aging really means, Levitin reveals resilience strategies and practical, cognitive enhancing tricks everyone should do as they age.The book is packed with accessible and discussable takeaways, providing great material for reading groups and media coverage.
Successful Aging inspires a powerful new approach to how readers think about our final decades, and it will revolutionize the way we plan for old age as individuals, family members, and citizens within a society where the average life expectancy continues to rise.
4. Just Breathe by Cammie McGovern
From the critically acclaimed author of A Step Toward Falling and Say What You Will comes a new YA standalone about mental health, chronic illness, and two teenagers learning to deal with both while falling for each other, perfect for fans of Five Feet Apart.
David Sheinman is the popular president of his senior class, battling cystic fibrosis.Jamie Turner is a quiet sophomore, struggling with depression.The pair soon realizes that they can be their true selves with each other, and their unlikely friendship develops into something so much more. But neither Jamie nor David can bring themselves to reveal the secrets that weigh most heavily on their hearts—and their time for honesty may be running out.
5. All the Days Past, All the Days to Come by Mildred D. Taylor
The saga of the Logan family–made famous in the Newbery Medal-winning Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry–concludes in a long-awaited and deeply fulfilling story.
In her tenth book, Mildred Taylor completes her sweeping saga about the Logan family of Mississippi, which is also the story of the civil rights movement in America of the 20th century. Cassie Logan, first met in Song of the Trees and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, is a young woman now, searching for her place in the world, a journey that takes her from Toledo to California, to law school in Boston, and, ultimately, in the 60s, home to Mississippito participate in voter registration. She is witness to the now-historic events of the century: the Great Migration north, the rise of the civil rights movement, preceded and precipitated by the racist society of America, and the often violent confrontations that brought about change. Rich, compelling storytelling is Ms. Taylor’s hallmark, and she fulfills expectations as she brings to a close the stirring family story that has absorbed her for over forty years. It is a story she was born to tell.
In 1909, Clementine Churchill steps off a train with her new husband, Winston. An angry woman emerges from the crowd to attack, shoving him in the direction of an oncoming train. Just before he stumbles, Clementine grabs him by his suit jacket. This will not be the last time Clementine Churchill saves her husband.
Lady Clementine is the ferocious story of the brilliant and ambitious woman beside Winston Churchill, the story of a partner who did not flinch through the sweeping darkness of war, and who would not surrender either to expectations or to enemies.
The Magical Language of Others is a powerful and aching love story in letters, from mother to daughter. After living in America for over a decade, Eun Ji Koh’s parents return to South Korea for work, leaving fifteen-year-old Eun Ji and her brother behind in California. Overnight, Eun Ji finds herself abandoned and adrift in a world made strange by her mother’s absence. Her mother writes letters, in Korean, over the years seeking forgiveness and love—letters Eun Ji cannot fully understand until she finds them years later hidden in a box.
As Eun Ji translates the letters, she looks to history—her grandmother Jun’s years as a lovesick wife in Daejeon, the horrors her grandmother Kumiko witnessed during the Jeju Island Massacre—and to poetry, as well as her own lived experience to answer questions inside all of us. Where do the stories of our mothers and grandmothers end and ours begin? How do we find words—in Korean, Japanese, English, or any language—to articulate the profound ways that distance can shape love? Eun Ji Koh fearlessly grapples with forgiveness, reconciliation, legacy, and intergenerational trauma, arriving at insights that are essential reading for anyone who has ever had to balance love, longing, heartbreak, and joy.
The Magical Language of Others weaves a profound tale of hard-won selfhood and our deep bonds to family, place, and language, introducing—in Eun Ji Koh—a singular, incandescent voice.
8. Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey
Miranda Popkey’s first novel is about desire, disgust, motherhood, loneliness, art, pain, feminism, anger, envy, guilt–written in language that sizzles with intelligence and eroticism. The novel is composed almost exclusively of conversations between women–the stories they tell each other, and the stories they tell themselves, about shame and love, infidelity and self-sabotage–and careens through twenty years in the life of an unnamed narrator hungry for experience and bent on upending her life. Edgy, wry, shot through with rage and despair, Topics of Conversation introduces an audacious and immensely gifted new novelist.
9. Followers by Megan Angelo
An electrifying story of two ambitious friends, the dark choices they make and the profound moment that changes the meaning of privacy forever.
Orla Cadden dreams of literary success, but she’s stuck writing about movie-star hookups and influencer yoga moves. Orla has no idea how to change her life until her new roommate, Floss―a striving, wannabe A-lister―comes up with a plan for launching them both into the high-profile lives they so desperately crave. But it’s only when Orla and Floss abandon all pretense of ethics that social media responds with the most terrifying feedback of all: overwhelming success.
Thirty-five years later, in a closed California village where government-appointed celebrities live every moment of the day on camera, a woman named Marlow discovers a shattering secret about her past. Despite her massive popularity―twelve million loyal followers―Marlow dreams of fleeing the corporate sponsors who would do anything, even horrible things, to keep her on-screen. When she learns that her whole family history is a lie, Marlow finally summons the courage to run in search of the truth, no matter the risks.
Followers traces the paths of Orla, Floss and Marlow as they wind through time toward each other, and toward a cataclysmic event that sends America into lasting upheaval. At turns wry and tender, bleak and hopeful, this darkly funny story reminds us that even if we obsess over famous people we’ll never meet, what we really crave is genuine human connection.
10. How Quickly She Disappears by Raymond Fleischmann
The Dry meets Silence of the Lambs in this intoxicating tale of literary suspense set in the relentless Alaskan landscape about madness and obsession, loneliness and grief, and the ferocious bonds of family …It’s 1941 in small-town Alaska and Elisabeth Pfautz is alone. She’s living far from home, struggling through an unhappy marriage, and she spends her days tutoring her precocious young daughter. Elisabeth’s twin sister disappeared without a trace twenty years earlier, and Elisabeth’s life has never recovered. Cryptic visions of her sister haunt her dreams, and Elisabeth’s crushing loneliness grows more intense by the day. But through it all, she clings to one belief: That her sister is still alive, and that they’ll be reunited one day.
And that day may be coming soon. Elisabeth’s world is upended when Alfred Seidel — an enigmatic German bush pilot — arrives in town and murders a local man in cold blood. Sitting in his cell in the wake of his crime, Alfred refuses to speak to anyone except for Elisabeth. He has something to tell her: He knows exactly what happened to her long-missing sister, but he’ll reveal this truth only if Elisabeth fulfills three requests.Increasingly isolated from her neighbors and imprisoned by the bitter cold and her own obsession, Elisabeth lets herself slip deeper into Alfred’s web. A tenuous friendship forms between them, even as Elisabeth struggles to understand Alfred’s game and what he’s after.
But if it means she’ll get answers, she’s willing to play by his rules. She’s ready to sacrifice whatever it takes to be reunited with her sister, even if it means putting herself — and her family — in mortal danger.
11. Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener
The prescient, page-turning account of a journey in Silicon Valley: a defining memoir of our digital age
In her mid-twenties, at the height of tech industry idealism, Anna Wiener—stuck, broke, and looking for meaning in her work, like any good millennial–left a job in book publishing for the promise of the new digital economy. She moved from New York to San Francisco, where she landed at a big-data startup in the heart of the Silicon Valley bubble: a world of surreal extravagance, dubious success, and fresh-faced entrepreneurs hell-bent on domination, glory, and, of course, progress.
Anna arrived amidst a massive cultural shift, as the tech industry rapidly transformed into a locus of wealth and power rivaling Wall Street. But amid the company ski vacations and in-office speakeasies, boyish camaraderie and ride-or-die corporate fealty, a new Silicon Valley began to emerge: one in far over its head, one that enriched itself at the expense of the idyllic future it claimed to be building.
Part coming-age-story, part portrait of an already-bygone era, Anna Wiener’s memoir is a rare first-person glimpse into high-flying, reckless startup culture at a time of unchecked ambition, unregulated surveillance, wild fortune, and accelerating political power. With wit, candor, and heart, Anna deftly charts the tech industry’s shift from self-appointed world savior to democracy-endangering liability, alongside a personal narrative of aspiration, ambivalence, and disillusionment.Unsparing and incisive,
Uncanny Valley is a cautionary tale, and a revelatory interrogation of a world reckoning with consequences its unwitting designers are only beginning to understand.
12. Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau
The year is 1911 when twenty-year-old heiress Peggy Batternberg is invited to spend the summer in America’s Playground.
The invitation to the luxurious Oriental Hotel a mile from Coney Island is unwelcome. Despite hailing from one of America’s richest families, Peggy would much rather spend the summer working at the Moonrise Bookstore than keeping up appearances with New York City socialites and her snobbish, controlling family.But soon it transpires that the hedonism of nearby Coney Island affords Peggy the freedom she has been yearning for, and it’s not long before she finds herself in love with a troubled pier-side artist of humble means, whom the Batternberg patriarchs would surely disapprove of.Disapprove they may, but hidden behind their pomposity lurks a web of deceit, betrayal and deadly secrets. And as bodies begin to mount up amidst the sweltering clamour of Coney Island, it seems the powerful Batternbergs can get away with anything…even murder.Extravagant, intoxicating and thumping with suspense, bestselling Nancy Bilyeau’s magnificent Dreamland is a story of corruption, class and dangerous obsession.
13. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
Already being hailed as “a Grapes of Wrath for our times” and “a new American classic,” American Dirt is a rare exploration into the inner hearts of people willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer of hope.Lydia Quixano Perez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with four books he would like to buy–two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.
American Dirt will leave readers utterly changed. It is a page-turner; it is a literary achievement; it is filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity on every page. It is one of the most important books for our times.
14. The Art of Resistance by Justus Rosenberg
An unforgettable World War II memoir set in Nazi-occupied France and filled with romance and adventure: a former Eastern European Jew remembers his flight from the Holocaust and his extraordinary four years in the French underground. Justus Rosenberg, now 98, has taught literature at Bard College for the past fifty years. In 1937, as the Nazis gained control and anti-Semitism spread in the Free City of Danzig, a majority German city on the Baltic Sea, sixteen-year-old Justus Rosenberg was sent to Paris to finish his education in safety. Three years later, France fell to the Germans. Alone and in danger, penniless, and cut off from contact with his family in Poland, Justus fled south. A chance meeting led him to Varian Fry, an American journalist in Marseille helping thousands of men and women, including many artists and intellectuals—among them Hannah Arendt, Marc Chagall, Andre Breton, and Max Ernst—escape the Nazis.
With his German background, understanding of French cultural, and fluency in several languages, including English, Justus became an invaluable member of Fry’s refugee network as a spy and scout. The spry blond who looked even younger than his age flourished in the underground, handling counterfeit documents, secret passwords, black market currency, surveying escape routes, and dealing with avaricious gangsters. But when Fry was eventually forced to leave France, Gussie, as he was affectionately known, could not get out. For the next four years, Justus relied on his wits and skills to escape captivity, survive several close calls with death, and continue his fight against the Nazis, working with the French Resistance and later, becoming attached with the United States Army. At the war’s end, Justus emigrated to America, and built a new life.
Justus’ story is a powerful saga of bravery, daring, adventure, and survival with the soul of a spy thriller. Reflecting on his past, Justus sees his life as a confluence of circumstances. As he writes, “I survived the war through a rare combination of good fortune, resourcefulness, optimism, and, most important, the kindness of many good people.”
All book excerpts have been picked up from Goodreads